WATCH­ING THE HOR­ROR FROM A DIS­TANCE

Cal­gary’s Pales­tini­ans call for a stronger re­sponse from Canada to the vi­o­lence in Gaza

StarMetro Calgary - - COVER STORY - MARY GE­TANEH

In­side the movie the­atre, Maya Al-Ghoul’s chil­dren were im­mersed in the fic­tional chaos and devastation of Avengers: In­fin­ity War. But out­side, Al-Ghoul was try­ing to com­pre­hend some all too real-world chaos and devastation.

Amid the dark­ness of the cin­ema, a phone call from a friend in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries had dis­turbed Al-Ghoul. She went out­side to an­swer be­cause an­swer­ing phone calls from her home­land is usu­ally an un­set­tling ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You get a call from Pales­tine and you’re just hop­ing it’s ‘Hi, how are you?’” Al-Ghoul said.

But this wasn’t one of those calls.

The dead­li­est vi­o­lence in Gaza since 2014 was sparked Mon­day as Is­raeli troops opened fire on Pales­tini­ans protest­ing along the bor­der fence, killing at least 60 and in­jur­ing as many as 2,700 dur­ing protests that co­in­cided with the cer­e­mo­nial open­ing of the new U.S. em­bassy in Jerusalem.

Al-Ghoul still has a lot of fam­ily in Gaza. Af­ter be­ing told of the chaos, the Cal­gary mother quickly made the rounds of calls to make sure they were still alive.

“I cried a lot and it’s not just be­cause I’m sad about what hap­pened, but be­cause I’m so an­gry,” she said. “My anger stems from know­ing that it’s not the first time that’s hap­pened and our politi­cians are silent about it. They’re not do­ing any­thing or say­ing any­thing to stop it.”

That feel­ing of frus­tra­tion is shared by many in the Pales­tinian com­mu­nity in Al­berta. Dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Cal­gary on Tues­day, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ex­pressed his con­cerns over the killings, say­ing the thoughts of the world are with the vic­tims in Gaza. But he stopped short of con­demn­ing Is­rael’s role in the blood­shed.

“We are call­ing for a stop to the vi­o­lence, a de-es­ca­la­tion of the vi­o­lence in the re­gion right now,” Trudeau said.

But that re­sponse is still not strong enough for many Pales­tini­ans here.

“I feel re­ally an­gry and frus­trated and, to be quite frank, I am quite dis­gusted with Canada’s com­plic­ity in all of this,” said Saba Amro, who runs the Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans group in Cal­gary.

The group strives to sup­port Pales­tinian ex-pats and ed­u­cate politi­cians and the pub­lic on is­sues fac­ing their home­land while push­ing for change. At a Tues­day vigil at Cal­gary City Hall they again called for an im­me­di­ate end to the vi­o­lence in Gaza.

Amro said she would like to see the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment fol­low through on eco­nomic sanc­tions on Is­rael, or at the very least ac­knowl­edge the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions that Is­rael has com­mit­ted.

For her part, Al-Ghoul also wants to see Canada pub­licly con­demn Is­rael.

More re­ac­tions from Cal­gary res­i­dents at thes­tar.com/cal­gary

SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

The fa­ther of 8-month-old Leila An­war Ghan­door, who died in hospi­tal on Tues­day from tear gas in­hala­tion, car­ries her for burial. Cal­gary’s Pales­tinian com­mu­nity is call­ing for ac­tion to end the vi­o­lence in Gaza.

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